Crunch Gym Is Notoriously Corrupt

Crunch Gym is notoriously corrupt. In the course of running this blog, it’s only natural that we get quite a few similar complaints about the same company. Sears Home Repair People never show up on time. Verizon’s customer service people are mean. Stuff like that. It becomes really troubling when we receive many complaints about a company refusing to stop taking money out of an ex-customer’s account. Those are the complaints we receive about Crunch Gym. Remember Jacob? He was canceling his membership after Crunch tried to charge him extra for adding a boxing ring to the gym.

Jacob wrote with an update, it seems that he’s having a hell of a time actually canceling his month-to-month membership. They won’t stop charging his account. This isn’t the first time we’ve heard this. Read Jacob’s update inside.

Jacob writes:

Crunch Rep Janet agreed verbally in person that a fee increase might not apply to me, as I had been a member for only 5 months. She promised to email someone higher up and get back to me by phone.

Several days later, no phone call, So I call them back.

She says oh yes I heard from them and unfortunately the rate increase does apply.

Me – Ok fine, I will cancel my membership, but what about your 30-day notification of cancellation policy?

(Remember that Crunch itself failed miserably to notify its customers 30-days in advance about rates increases, it actually gave us less than a week, and their contract explicitly states a 30-day period is required)

J- Well that wouldn’t apply, we don’t want to be jerks about it.

Me – (thinking that is actually human of them) Ok, I’ll come in and sign the cancellation papers.

So I do, and even put a note on it saying as per agreement with Janet @ Crunch, cancellation is effective by 3/1/07.

Looking at my bank statement today online, I see a fresh charge from Crunch for guess what? $69…..no. yep, $84! Not only should I not be charged at all, but they already made the increase in violation of their own policy which I pointed out to them at least 5 times.

Crunch broke their own rules about rate increases, and I bet anyone who didn’t complain (and many who did) are paying higher rates this month even though they legally shouldn’t.

I promptly call the gym and after 3 or four transfers get back to Janet. She apparently only has vague recollections (“your name sounds familiar”) about the 3 phone conversations and face to face meeting from a week ago.

After more of the same hollow assurances to refund my money, she takes my number again, and I tell her I want this resolved by the end of the week also expressing my frustration about all the similar stories I’ve read about Crunch and Bally’s.

I go to my bank to see what I can do about blocking future charges. They tell me that I can only dispute charges individually and since Crunch has my account info, they can run a charge through anytime they want. Her best suggestion: close the account.

I urge all consumerist readers: Go to independent health centers, yoga studios, buy a pair of running shoes and jog in the nearest park, ride your bike, walk more, just don’t join another corporate money sucking scheme, I mean, gym!

Who has time to work out with all this Bull sh*t!

Crunch Gym is a shady outfit. Have any of you had similar problems with Crunch debiting money or charging your account after you’ve canceled? Tell us about it: tips [at] consumerist [dot] com. —MEGHANN MARCO

Comments

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  1. humphrmi says:

    Is Crunch owned by Bally?

    I had this experience with Bally about 15 years ago:

    Went in looking for a simple month-to-month deal, wanted to try it out and was willing to pay premium for a non-contract membership. Sit in an office with a sleazy sales rep who manages to get me on a contract. I go home, think about it, and decide that was a stupid thing to do. So I call the rep, say “Ha ha! You got me! Now really, change my membership to a month-by-month or I’ll cancel” This guy tells me that even though they offer a month-by-month plan, he’s not gonna give it to me because the contract “is what he sold me”. Thank goodness for the 48-hour (or whatever it is) contract cancel law here in Illinois. I sign the docs, send ‘em in traceable carrier, send him a copy with a note attached saying “I guess you won’t sell me anything, d***head.” And off to another club with me.

    Still, it’s always a good idea to put these sorts of things on credit cards. Sure you still have to challenge each charge, but the CC Co. doesn’t get your money while you challenge it, and vendors who get too many chargebacks eventually lose their CC privileges.

  2. detrop says:

    i was planning to join crunch today. :(

  3. niccernicus says:

    @humphrmi:

    “I sign the docs, send ‘em in traceable carrier, send him a copy with a note attached saying “I guess you won’t sell me anything, d***head.” And off to another club with me.”

    Best line I’ve heard all day! Brilliant!

  4. DeeJayQueue says:

    Which bank do you have? I recently went through a process with a sleazy loan rehab company and I called the bank and they put a stop payment on any EFTs from them for up to 6 months. They said it was normally a $30 charge but the CSR waived it for me. I bank with Wachovia BTW.

  5. itmustbeken says:

    The bad thing here is that Cruch was sold by Ballys in late January, so there isn’t a set chain of command to march up. In fact, my guess would be the individual outlets have been told to hit the customers hard for rate increases & retention.

    Having had this trouble with Ballys at the start of my membership, I called my bank and had Bally’s calling ME back by the afternoon. I was able file a complaint and block any further transactions from Ballys or their bank.

    Another method I have enjoyed using is finding out who the agent of process is for the company and talking to them directly if all else failed. That usually skips management and goes directly to ownership. I mention politely that, as the agent of process, I would prefer to keep them out of small claims court but that I feel wronged enough to do so.

    Crunch is now owned by the Crunch Holdings Corp.

  6. Sharad says:

    If they are charging a debit card, you could try telling your bank that you “lost” your debit card so that you are issued a new one with a different number. The risk you run here, though, is that Crunch may send your bogus bill to collections…

  7. itmustbeken says:

    Cruch was sold in January to “Health club industry veteran Marc Tascher and investment firm Angelo, Gordon & Co.”

    http://chicagobusiness.com/cgi-bin/news.pl?id=19220

    And sorry, it is now owned by ‘Crunch Acquisition LLC’

  8. Trai_Dep says:

    Bally’s is hell. Lying, cheating bastards who lie and cheat because it gives them woodies. Have a loooong post under “Crunch Gym” describing the laughably monsterous things they *tried* to do to me, a RETURNING customer. Scope it out if you’re thinking of doing anything w/ Bally’s.

    Bottom Line: they’re lying, cheating bastards who lie and cheat b/c it gives them woodies. Run.

  9. TPK says:

    Another plug for one-vendor use credit card numbers. I just recently found out that Citibank actually lets you set them up essentially like a Purchase Order, you specify the time period during which the number is valid, and you can also set a dollar limit. Both of these limits can be updated at any time.

    It certainly gives “I am cancelling my account” more teeth.

  10. ne0shell says:

    @ itmustbeken
    How do you go about finding out who the agent of process is? I am in the process of trying to get warranty charges back from a dealership and plan to send a letter to their agent but have no clue how to find out who that person is.

  11. Ben Popken says:

    Peter writes:

    “I’m surprised that you didn’t mention the A-1 tip for dealing with companies which refuse to cancel a membership:

    Send a letter to the credit card company which says: “I have cancelled my membership with ACME, and the company is no longer authorized to charge my credit card for any reason.” Send a copy of the letter to the company which insists on charging the credit card.

    IANAL, but my understanding is that credit card companies are legally required to honor a notice like that. That puts the power back in the hands of the consumer, since the company no longer has the money. Most companies will simply cancel at that point, since the odds of actually collecting anything are about nill (unless there’s a signed contract which hasn’t expired).

    This should work for any company which directly charges a customer’s credit card.”

  12. thejbs says:

    UPDATE:

    Crunch did follow through and I recieved a call the next day saying that a refund would be given, it posted to my account soon after.

    I hope that no further charges are made.

  13. krunk4ever says:

    Do gyms not accept credit cards? Why are people giving allowing withdrawing directly from their bank account? The only times I give access to my bank account is for other banks to transfer money to/from and employers who will directly deposit money into my account.

    Never have I given my direct access to my bank account for the purchase of any item or service.

    //krunk (^_^x)

  14. krunk4ever says:

    @krunk4ever: an amendment to what I said previously. Credit cards also have direct access to my bank accounts so I can pay my bills electronically, but I’m the one who initiates the amount and not the credit card company.

    If the place doesn’t take credit card, what you should opt for is to pay monthly either by an automatic bill pay or just dropping a check or cash every month.

    //krunk (^_^x)

  15. thejbs says:

    dear krunk-

    I used a debit card to sign up, somehow they have the right to charge you monthly, like an auto-bill pay. What frustrates me is that they require this automated billing- my cell phone, cable, rent, health insurance, i.e. EVERYTHING ELSE doesn’t require this kind of financial relationship. It’s just a stupid arrangement that puts the consumer in harm’s way.

  16. reflous says:

    I ended up locked into a contract with Crunch that I DIDN’T EVEN SIGN. I wrote many nasty letters to everyone at Crunch and Bally’s (was owned by Bally’s at the time) without any luck (detailing that I’m a law student and that suing them would be a learning experience). My contract was sold to a collection agency who I also started fighting. I looked into suing them for (a) money damages; and (b) a declaratory action to state I wasn’t under contract. Unfortunately, to bring a case in the state court of New York it costs ~$200. Instead I wrote the Attorney General of New York (where I was located) and within ONE WEEK the collection agency wrote a letter of apology as did Crunch. In New York the AG controls business licenses.

  17. itmustbeken says:

    @ ne0shell : Here in California, the Secretary of State holds all titles to corporations doing business in the state. My understanding is that most states follow the same rule. Check to see if your state has it on their website.

    When a corporation files it’s paper work, it designates one shareholder as the agent of process: i.e. the one you sue. In the handful of times I’ve had to do it, this person can either be an expensive lawyer or the presidents wife. In every case, I received an irate phone call from the agent and my money back within days. Good luck!!!

  18. Kalik says:

    I know that here in Japan, it’s not very common to have shady practices. But there is a large scale gym chain that requires you to sign up for their credit card when you join… that is one gym that I am going to definitely avoid!

  19. Randomroomie says:

    SOURCES WTD FOR ARTICLE:

    I am writing an article about Crunch and other dishonest fitness companies, especially in the NYC area.

    Please contact me here if you’d like to talk:

    randomroomie@yahoo.com

    Thanks.

  20. NYC9781532 says:

    Before canceling my membership at Crunch 2 month ago, I went online and read about crunch.

    I then cancel my membership and close that credit card and…
    2 moth later their asking me for money!
    I call in and they don’t even have my cancellation form!
    So for them I’m still a member!
    And they don’t want to call their gym down 14th street, they want me to mail them the cancellation!.
    I’m happy I cancel that card!